July 28, 2017
The courts at the All England Club at Wimbledon are hallowed ground for tennis players. South Carolina rising sophomore Paul Jubb, a native of Hull, England, had the opportunity to spend time on those courts as he served as former world #1 Victoria Azarenka's hitting partner during this month's Wimbledon Championships.
"I was training in Wimbledon at the time, and the professional players needed hitting partners. The coaches here sort it out. They asked me one day to do it. I was really happy for the opportunity and the experience to play with such a high caliber player.
I hit with her the day before her first-round match. After that, they said they would love for me to hit with her again. I ended up hitting with her three times.
I had a few friends that were a bit jealous that I got to hit with her.
The first day we hit, we had the chance to play on Court 18, which is one of the match courts there. There were a few people watching us train. That was a good feeling.
Just being around Wimbledon's practice courts where all of the other top professionals are, that was a really good environment. Being able to hit with a woman who was No. 1 in the world at one point was really good.
I've never played against a woman with as high of a standing as her or who has achieved as much as her.
I wasn't intimidated. There were a few nerves because I wanted to perform well so they'd want me back. I'm normally confident in my game, so I wasn't too nervous.
She takes the ball really early and hits it really flat, so the ball goes through the court pretty quick. It can be quite hard to handle sometimes. It was hard at the start, so I would just try to get used to it as quick as I can.
I noticed a lot about how the professionals go about their training. She was so intense with herself in trying to get to a certain level by the end of the training session. She was never just taking it easy. All of the other pros I watched weren't taking it easy either. They were always trying the best they could on the practice courts.
It was a really a great experience to have. It's something that motivates you to push for that level and be able to be there, playing as a professional. I definitely believe that it can happen. I have to just keep going, and hopefully one day it will come true."
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